📚 Broken is live 📚

Hello!

Well, it's finally here. Six years after the last installment, I am so pleased to announce that the fifth book in the Diana Hunter series, Broken has hit the Amazon shelves.

Please read on. There is an extract from the book below, along with purchase links. But to reiterate the warning from last week, there is a cliffy ending. If you don't like them, wait for the final book coming in 2025 and read the two books back to back.

Buy Broken or read for free with Kindle Unlimited

Broken

Chapter One

“UNCLE PEEP!”

DIANA got out of the car and turned to see a young girl run up to Peter. She was aged about seven, in a pink dress with white flowers and green rain boots. The girl wrapped her arms around Peter’s thighs and looked up at him adoringly, wrinkling her nose and beaming to reveal two perfect rows of white milk teeth and gums so pink they matched her dress.

Peter’s face lit up. “Hey, kiddo!” In one clean motion, Peter bent and swung the girl round onto his back, where she clung, her cheek pressed between his shoulder blades.

“Leth go!” the girl lisped. The thick lenses of her blue-rimmed glasses reflected the sunshine but didn’t disguise the almond shape and upward slant of her eyes.

Peter marched into the garden and placed the girl at the top of the plastic slide that sat in the middle before running around to the bottom to catch her as she slid down. It was clearly an established ritual, because as soon as Peter caught her, he swung her up to the top of the slide, and down she slid again. Diana watched from outside the unpainted picket fence that surrounded the backyard.

The yard had an uncared-for air about it. Weed grasses grew tall under the slide, while dead, brown grass interspersed with stretches of dirt covered the rest of it. Old, untended shrubs grew wild and rambling around the edges, the flowers small, the leaves pale and sparse, holding on despite a lack of attention. But uncle and niece were oblivious to their surroundings as they horsed around, throwing themselves, quite literally, into their play.

“He didn’t tell you about Clare’s Down syndrome?” Diana turned, a little embarrassed that she’d been caught staring. A woman a few years older than she walked toward Diana, her arms folded. She looked cold, or defensive.

“No, he didn’t.”

“Well, he’s told us a lot about you.” The woman looked at Diana carefully. The end of her nose was red, her cheeks too, while her curly, fair hair created a messy halo around her head. She wore a grey, crew neck Fair Isle sweater patched at the elbows and faded jeans. Diana instinctively understood she was being scrutinized.

The woman held out her hand. “I’m Shannon, Peter’s sister-in-law. But you probably already knew that.”

Diana smiled. “Diana.”

She nodded over to where Peter was now galloping around the yard with Clare on his back, Clare squealing with delight as she bounced along. Peter stopped abruptly, lifted Clare over his head, and held her upside down by her ankles, giving her a gentle shake before dropping her carefully to the ground.

“Do they always do that?” Diana said. Mirroring Shannon, she folded her arms. This was a side of Peter Diana hadn’t seen. He seemed to be enjoying himself. She hoped she wouldn’t be encouraged to join in. Diana looked down at her shoes. She hadn’t come dressed for play.

“Always. At least they’re outside. It’s a bit much when they do it in the living room.” Shannon chuckled, then sobered. “It’s great for Clare to have this kind of rough and tumble play, though. She doesn’t get it otherwise, and you can see she hates it.” Clare was now rolling in the dirt, giggling as Peter tickled her.

“I thought they sang in the living room. Peter’s the cameraman, he told me. Clare sings songs from Frozen.”

“Yeah, they do. That’s a whole other thing. Then there’s the cheer she leads him in. He follows the moves faithfully, while she orders him around and gives him a talking-to when he gets it wrong. It’s quite comical, really. Peter’s a great guy. I don’t know what we’d do without him.” Shannon looked at Diana as she chewed her lip, her gaze lingering as Diana’s big grey eyes held hers. Diana blinked first, and the two women turned to watch uncle and niece in silence for a few seconds before Shannon spoke again. “Come on inside. I’ll make you some coffee.”

A small gesture of welcome. It wasn’t much, but it was something. “That would be lovely, thank you,” Diana replied.

Inside, Shannon busied herself making Diana’s coffee. The scruffy kitchen smelled of boiled vegetables. A pan of beans in an orange sauce sat on the worktop. “Sorry, it’s instant.”

“Hey, don’t be. I love it. Reminds me of when I was a kid. My mom used to make me a milky instant coffee every morning. These days, of course, they’ve turned making them into a performance art, and we go around calling them silly names like lattes, but at their heart, they’re the same thing. Milky coffee.” Diana took a sip of her drink as she cringed inwardly, unsure if she had been patronizing. She closed her eyes. “Hmm, delish. Thank you.”

“Let’s sit down. The other two probably won’t notice we’re even here. Peter said you were on your way to something or other.”

“Yeah, nothing very interesting. We’ve been invited to a demo of a new piece of software the city is rolling out. It’s supposed to help us catch a few more bad guys. We’ll see.” Diana took another sip of her coffee. “How long have you lived here?”

“Just a couple of years. When Matt, my husband . . . Peter’s brother . . . died, we moved to this.” Shannon pulled a face. “It’s not what we’re used to, but it’s all I could afford. I need to be home for Clare, to give her stability, take her to appointments . . .” Shannon trailed off before rallying. She took a deep breath and slapped her thighs. “Peter helps us out. He’s been an absolute rock.” She gave a tight smile. “Peter said your parents were murdered too.”

“Yes.” Phew, that got heavy quickly. “Over a decade ago now.”

“I’m sorry. That must have been hard.”

Diana nodded, racking her brain for a safer subject to segue onto, but for some reason she couldn’t come up with one. “I’ve survived.” She smiled. “And I have my little dog, Max.”

Shannon returned Diana’s smile. “Ah, we’ve heard a lot about Max. Clare’s dying to meet him.”

“We’ll have to arrange it!” Diana said, happy to be on safer conversational ground. Max got her out of a lot of holes.

The sounds of banging and chatter reached them. A moment later, Clare came rushing in. She put her hands on Shannon’s thighs and looked appealingly at her mother, her eyes wide and innocent behind her glasses. “Uncle Peep says he has to go. Make him stay, Mommy! Make him stay!”

Shannon swept Clare’s bangs from her face and looked deep into her eyes. “Remember I told you, it’s just a short visit today. Do you want to say hello to his friend Diana?” Immediately, Clare spun around to notice Diana for the first time. If Shannon had thought her entreaty would be met positively, she was wrong. Clare’s eyes flashed dangerously as she regarded “Peter’s friend.” Diana smiled and opened her mouth to say “hi,” but Clare got in first.

“No!” Diana started at the sound, surprised. Clare immediately ran from the room, leaving the two women in an embarrassed silence.

“Oh, dear,” Diana said.

“She’ll recover. Clare's used to having Peter to herself. I didn’t think she’d be quite that sensitive, though. Sorry. I’ll go and talk to her.”

“She’s smarter than we give her credit for.” Peter appeared in the doorway, panting slightly, his breath disturbing the strands of hair that fell across his forehead, his cheeks glowing. “I’m sorry we can’t stay longer to bring her around. We have to get going.”

“Yeah, okay, let me just get her though so you don’t leave with her like this.”

“I’ll go,” Peter said. He disappeared up the stairs.

Shannon smiled awkwardly at Diana. Diana gave her a tight smile back. The idea crossed Diana’s mind that perhaps she should have thought this visit through more carefully. Peter had suggested they drop in on their way to the Vancouver Convention Center. Shannon lived just a few minutes away. It had seemed innocent enough—a quick visit to “break the ice” with the two people who mattered most to Peter. Now they were faced with the longer-term ramifications of a threatened little girl who thought Diana would usurp her in her beloved uncle’s affections.

Peter returned with Clare, her head buried in his neck. She carried a soft, plush, pink pony. “See? We’re all friends.”

“But you’re leaving,” Clare moaned, her voice muffled as she mumbled into his neck.

“I’ll be back soon.”

Clare lifted her head and glared at Diana. “Not with her.”

“Clare . . .” Shannon warned her.

“No!” Clare turned her face into Peter’s neck again. Peter rolled his eyes and half-turned from the two women, murmuring in Clare’s ear.

Diana noticed him pull his watch off his wrist and offer it to his niece, who nodded sulkily and took it from him. He turned back to the women, kissed Clare's head, and handed her to Shannon.

“Say buh-bye, Clare,” Shannon said. The little girl muttered. “What was that?”

“Bye,” Clare whispered.

“Bye, Clare. Nice to meet you,” Diana said brightly. She could not wait to leave.

“I’ll drop by tomorrow, Shannon,” Peter said. “For a bit longer.” He kissed her on the cheek and left through the back door.

Diana made to follow him, but as she walked by, Shannon stopped her, placing a hand on her arm. Diana looked down at Shannon’s hand and then into her eyes, seeing a fiery determination in them. “Peter’s a great guy. He’s been like a father to Clare. He put his glittering career on hold to come back and support us after Matt died. We’re very protective of him. I’ve never seen him care about a girl like he does you. Don’t mess him around, okay?”

Broken: The blurb

Crime. Conspiracy. A world where AI meets age-old deceit.

When artificial intelligence promises to safeguard society, a chilling discovery casts a dark shadow on its true purpose. Twenty-two young women are abandoned on a train track, thrusting Diana into a labyrinth of deception and danger.

Armed with nothing but her wits and cryptic clues, she finds herself at the crux of an illicit game. Her quest for answers plunges her into the murky depths of organized crime, where betrayal is business, and information could be lethal.

As lines blur between savior and captor, the software's sinister uses unravel, painting innocents as criminals and shielding the corrupt. Meanwhile, Diana's confrontation with wrongdoing spirals into a life-or-death gambit, pitting her against a relentless adversary as she acts as decoy. Or is she the ultimate target?

Every step draws Diana deeper into a plot that challenges her every belief about justice and morality. She must decide who to trust, who to save, and who to bring to justice. Loyalty and treachery collide. With the clock ticking, Diana faces an impossible choice: save those she loves or sacrifice everything for the greater good?

Broken is a taut techno-thriller that weaves a tale of corruption, courage, and indomitable human spirit. It's a race against time where the hunter becomes the hunted, and the very technology that was meant to protect threatens to tear everything apart. Can Diana expose the web of lies before it's too late?

Broken will be out next week. It will be available on Kindle, in paperback, and via Kindle Unlimited. I will announce it when it is published.

Grab your copy of Broken

(But not if you aren't prepared for a cliffy ending. Wait for the final book in 2025 instead. . .)

Broken is available on Kindle, in paperback, and is in Kindle Unlimited.

What Reviewers Are Saying…

“Wow, what a cliffhanger…”

“I was so engrossed.”

“I loved it.”

“A fabulous, plausible, unique, pulse-pounding plot line with an amazing twist. I couldn’t stop reading!

“I literally couldn’t put it down.”

“Wow. What a climax. And what an ending!!!”

“Wowee, well worth the wait.”

And if you've never tried this series…

…try out the prequel Hunted  which comes free as part of my starter library.

The starter library comes with your subscription to my mailing list and includes the first books in each of my four series:

The Case of the Screaming Beauty

Chaos in Cambridge
(an Insider exclusive, not available anywhere else)

Hunted

(an Insider exclusive, not available anywhere else)

Mardi Gras Madness

Get your copy of my starter library including Hunted when you subscribe for free here!.

Finally

I do so hope you enjoy Broken. It was a blast to write, a wonderful change of pace, and a delight to revisit Diana and Peter after so long away.

Happy reading!

Chaos in Cambridge by Alison Golden
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